Parents ‘tired of it’ after Tacoma middle school locked down 9 times for ‘Kia Boyz’

TACOMA, Wash. — Parents at a Tacoma middle school are upset, after their kids were put on lockdowns multiple times.

“Just the way that they’re being able to live amongst their peers is in jeopardy, I’m tired of it,” said Jennifer Lacey.

Her kid is a 6th grader at Hilltop Heritage Middle School.

Residents are blaming the self-proclaimed “Kia Boyz.”

There were two lockdowns at the school on Friday. Tacoma Public Schools confirmed in a statement to KIRO 7 that there have been at least nine total lockdowns this school year alone.

“There were two modified lockdowns called today at Hilton Heritage in response to erratic driving in the school parking lot, and then to the police response to the incident,” the district told us. “The new number is seven modified lockdowns and two full lockdowns.”

Parents are tired of it happening at their kids’ school.

“We have what they’re calling the ‘Kia Boyz’ driving stolen cars on and around school property and flashing weapons and yelling at students,” said parent Sarah Meaden.

She lives right across the street from Hilltop Heritage, where her 7th grader goes to school.

Meaden told KIRO 7 that she constantly hears the “Kia Boyz” driving up and down the street.

“We can hear the tires and then we can hear the announcement over the PA that says, ‘we’re now in a lockdown,’” she explained. “It’s never fun hearing that when your kid is over there.”

She found out about Friday’s lockdowns from her son.

“Him texting me before school even started saying, ‘hey, I’m going inside early because there’s a lockdown because the Kia Boyz are out front,” Meaden said.

A parent sent KIRO 7 the photo below of a red Kia parked out front of Hilltop Heritage. It was taken about 15 minutes before school started on Friday.

Kia Boys in Tacoma

“The suspects were witnessed driving around residential streets of Tacoma in an erratic manner. The occupants of a vehicle, described as a stolen Kia, brandished a suspected firearm at a Tacoma Public Schools Patrol Officer and threatened to shoot them. Shortly thereafter, the vehicle was damaged voluntarily by the occupants of the vehicle, who proceeded to steal another vehicle, a Hyundai. Tacoma Police officers responding to the area observed the vehicle and initiated a pursuit. The pursuit was terminated when the risk to the public outweighed the possible result of continuing the pursuit. The suspects were not apprehended.”

Jennifer Lacey also got a text from her kid on Friday.

Once the second lockdown went into place, she took matters into her own hands.

“He called me this morning when the Kia Boyz almost ran over him and his father just trying to get into the school,” Lacey added. “To learn that it happened just a few hours later. Nope! I’m getting my kid. I’m done!”

Lacey and other parents typically get an email from the school after the fact.

“I am extremely frustrated with the lack of communication and playing this game of bureaucracy,” she said. “The response needs to be faster because everybody is just heightened and we’re tired of hearing it from our kids.”

The school distract responded to this concern to KIRO 7 in a statement:

“We do not typically send any communication about modified lockdowns as those are precautionary measures for external situations that are not directed at the school. Instruction time is not affected, students can move about freely and classes continue as normal. The only difference between a regular day and a modified lockdown is entrance and exit to the building are restricted.

The building administrators make decisions about cancellation of activities based on several dynamic factors including student behavior, safety concerns, etc. There may be several reasons leading to cancellation. Activities were cancelled today and a dance was cancelled last week. Several factors were considered in both decisions.”